10.10.2006

Well, There You Go Again . . .

"PLEASE ACCEPT MY RESIGNATION. I DON'T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT ME AS A MEMBER."

"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others."
--- Groucho Marx

Depending on what/who you read, Kim Jong-Il and his exceptionally (and justifiably) paranoid government has either joined the "Nuclear Club" or has just exploded 15 cherry bombs taped to a radioactive watch. That used to be a pretty exclusive club, the members being the US, France, China, Great Britain, and the USSR, in 1970, when 188 countries joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The club is now (as far as we know) comprised of France, Great Britain, Israel, Pakistan, India, Russia, China, and the United States. South Africa was a member, but decided to scrap its arsenal (yuh think?). Although nominally still an NPT signatory, Iran is a vocal wannabe and the IAEA claims it's in violation. Everybody knows that Isreal is a club member, although nobody wants to admit that the club has Jewish members. And now North Korea is trying to crash the party. There may be more. Note the "2005 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference" report posted on the State Department's web site in April, 2005 (excerpts):
Setting: The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) plays a key role in global efforts to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons. The United States remains strongly committed to the Treaty. The NPT faces a grave challenge due to violations of the treaty's nonproliferation provisions by Iraq, North Korea, Iran and Libya. A widespread secret nuclear procurement network has also been exposed. While the Libyan and Iraqi threats have been eliminated, the North Korean and Iranian nuclear weapons programs continue to threaten the NPT regime.

Compliance with the NPT's Nonproliferation Obligations: The United States is committed to its NPT obligations and will seek support at the Conference for principles and policies to ensure the Treaty continues to advance global security . . .
This is incredibly disingenuous, of course. Wikipedia points out:
[The 5 original Nuclear Weapons States (NWS)] have made undertakings not to use their nuclear weapons against a non-NWS party except in response to a nuclear attack, or a conventional attack in alliance with a Nuclear Weapons State. However, these undertakings have not been incorporated formally into the treaty, and the exact details have varied over time. The United States, for instance, has indicated that it may use nuclear weapons in response to a non-conventional attack by "rogue states". The previous United Kingdom Secretary of State for Defence, Geoff Hoon, has also explicitly invoked the possibility of the use of the country's nuclear weapons in response to a non-conventional attack by "rogue states". In January 2006, President Jacques Chirac of France indicated that an incident of state-sponsored terrorism on France could trigger a small-scale nuclear retaliation aimed at destroying the "rogue state's" power centers . . .

Article VI [of the NPT] and the preamble indicate that the NWS parties pursue plans to reduce and liquidate their stockpiles; Article VI also calls for "...a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control." This formal obligation has never been adhered to by the NPT-recognized nuclear weapon states. Many proposals for a complete and universal disarmament tabled at the Conference on Disarmament over the past 3 decades have been rejected under one pretext or the other. The failure of the NPT-recognized nuclear weapon states to comply with their disarmament obligations, and the unconditional indefinite extension of the NPT, has left a simmering discontent among many signatories of the NPT, and a justification for the non-signatories to develop their own nuclear arsenals. It is quite probable that many signatories would eventually become disillusioned and seek nuclear weapons of their own, as is seen in the case of North Korea (that pulled out of NPT) and Iran.

In Article I, the Nuclear Weapon States declare not to "induce any non-nuclear-weapon State to ... acquire nuclear weapons." A preemptive-strike doctrine and otherwise threatening postures can be viewed as induction by non-NWS parties. Iran's ambiguous prevarication with enrichment technology is an indicator of such an induction.

Article X states that any state can withdraw from the treaty if they feel that "extraordinary events", for example a perceived threat, force them to do so. North Korea's withdrawal is a case in point.
Scott Galindez at truthout, in "All Nine Nuclear Powers Are Violating Non-Proliferation Treaty", asserts:
As North Korea becomes the eighth confirmed nuclear power (Israel is not confirmed but considered the ninth) some of the blame has to go to the original five nuclear powers. When the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty went into effect in 1970, the five countries who had nuclear bombs - the US, France, China, Great Britain, and the USSR - agreed to work to reduce and eventually eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

Now, 36 years later, no disarmament talks are taking place between those countries. North Korea has been a "threshold" country since the late 80s. The fall of the Soviet Union eliminated shared security arrangements and prompted North Korea to aggressively pursue a nuclear weapon.

The Clinton administration, recognizing the threat, entered into an agreement with North Korea to provide reactors for peaceful use in exchange for an end to the weapons program. In 2003, North Korea announced they were leaving the Non-Proliferation Treaty and reconstituting its weapons program, citing US failure to deliver the reactors.

North Korea's joining the list of nations with nuclear weapons is a sad day for our world. As was the day that the United States became the first nuclear power, and the Soviet Union the second, etc.… As long as one country possesses the ability to annihilate another it is only natural for those without that power to seek it.

In the early 90s, during the lead-up to the extension of the treaty, the US and other nuclear powers agreed to stop testing nuclear weapons. It was widely believed that without that step many other "threshold" nations would not have remained in the Non-Proliferation Treaty. It has been a long time since the original five nuclear powers have made any progress in negotiating a reduction in their arsenals; in fact the Bush administration is building new lower-yield nukes with conventional uses that could spur a new arms race.

If all of the nuclear powers that are condemning North Korea are serious about stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, perhaps they should read and come into compliance with the following section of the treaty they first signed in 1970 and extended in 1995:

Article VI Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control . . .
Note that C.J. Minster at Chicken Foot Stew/Social Upheaval gets credit for the pointer to Galindez's piece. A former writer here at P!, C.J. is a WILPF national board member and the blog administrator at US WILPF Blog. She is also involved with the Reaching Critical Will Project of the WILPF at the UN. I highly recommend reading their material.

In 1947, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists established "The Doomsday Clock" and set the time as "7 Minutes to Midnight". When in 1949 the Soviets tested their first nuclear device, the clock moved to "3 Minutes to Midnight". A little over four years later, the clock was set at "2 Minutes to Midnight" when he United States and the Soviet Union tested thermonuclear devices within nine months of one another. The clock stayed there for seventeen years, until 1960, when the concept of MAD (mutually assured destruction) became popular, and the clock was set at "17 Minutes to Midnight", the most optimistic setting since 1947. There were several fluctuations during the intervening years until 1991, with the signing of the START Treaty. There's been a steady decline since then. The last time the clock changed was in 2002, was "[l]ittle progress is made on global nuclear disarmament. The United States rejects a series of arms control treaties and announces it will withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Terrorists seek to acquire and use nuclear and biological weapons." The clock since then has stood at "7 Minutes to Midnight", right where we started in '47. I can hear that clock ticking loud and clear - I can't imagine that it wouldn't be reset to a precarious place very soon.

The arrogant and bellicose Doubleduh-Cheney Gang and its allies are irrefutably the most to blame for moving the clock's hands forward. The US is the one who espouses and threatens pre-emptive nuclear strikes. It is the US, in its NATO garb that first used depleted uranium weapons in bombing the hell out of Yugoslavia. On its own, it has used the same weapons in Iraq. An attack by the US government (or a proxy) on Iran seems almost certain, and The Gang speaks openly of designing smaller tactical "theater" nukes. A pre-emptive strike on North Korea looms on the horizon.

To describe the US as a "peaceful nation", while it rattles every sword it has, is a joke . . . a very bad one. The punchline is "and then we all died."

Seymour Hersch, in The New Yorker wrote in April of this year ("THE IRAN PLANS: Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb?") . . .
The Bush Administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack. Current and former American military and intelligence officials said that Air Force planning groups are drawing up lists of targets, and teams of American combat troops have been ordered into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting data and to establish contact with anti-government ethnic-minority groups. The officials say that President Bush is determined to deny the Iranian regime the opportunity to begin a pilot program, planned for this spring, to enrich uranium . . .

One former defense official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the Bush Administration, told me that the military planning was premised on a belief that “a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government.” He added, “I was shocked when I heard it, and asked myself, ‘What are they smoking?’ ” . . .

A senior Pentagon adviser on the war on terror expressed a similar view. “This White House believes that the only way to solve the problem is to change the power structure in Iran, and that means war,” he said. The danger, he said, was that “it also reinforces the belief inside Iran that the only way to defend the country is to have a nuclear capability.” A military conflict that destabilized the region could also increase the risk of terror: “Hezbollah comes into play,” the adviser said, referring to the terror group that is considered one of the world’s most successful, and which is now a Lebanese political party with strong ties to Iran. “And here comes Al Qaeda.” . . .

“Nuclear planners go through extensive training and learn the technical details of damage and fallout—we’re talking about mushroom clouds, radiation, mass casualties, and contamination over years. This is not an underground nuclear test, where all you see is the earth raised a little bit. These politicians don’t have a clue, and whenever anybody tries to get it out”—remove the nuclear option—“they’re shouted down.”

The attention given to the nuclear option has created serious misgivings inside the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he added, and some officers have talked about resigning. Late this winter, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sought to remove the nuclear option from the evolving war plans for Iran—without success, the former intelligence official said. “The White House said, ‘Why are you challenging this? The option came from you.’ ”

The Pentagon adviser on the war on terror confirmed that some in the Administration were looking seriously at this option, which he linked to a resurgence of interest in tactical nuclear weapons among Pentagon civilians and in policy circles. He called it “a juggernaut that has to be stopped.” He also confirmed that some senior officers and officials were considering resigning over the issue. “There are very strong sentiments within the military against brandishing nuclear weapons against other countries,” the adviser told me. “This goes to high levels.” The matter may soon reach a decisive point, he said, because the Joint Chiefs had agreed to give President Bush a formal recommendation stating that they are strongly opposed to considering the nuclear option for Iran. “The internal debate on this has hardened in recent weeks,” the adviser said. “And, if senior Pentagon officers express their opposition to the use of offensive nuclear weapons, then it will never happen.”

The adviser added, however, that the idea of using tactical nuclear weapons in such situations has gained support from the Defense Science Board, an advisory panel whose members are selected by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. “They’re telling the Pentagon that we can build the B61 with more blast and less radiation,” he said . . .

A discouraged former I.A.E.A. official told me in late March that, at this point, “there’s nothing the Iranians could do that would result in a positive outcome. American diplomacy does not allow for it. Even if they announce a stoppage of enrichment, nobody will believe them. It’s a dead end.”

Another diplomat in Vienna asked me, “Why would the West take the risk of going to war against that kind of target without giving it to the I.A.E.A. to verify? We’re low-cost, and we can create a program that will force Iran to put its cards on the table.” A Western Ambassador in Vienna expressed similar distress at the White House’s dismissal of the I.A.E.A. He said, “If you don’t believe that the I.A.E.A. can establish an inspection system—if you don’t trust them—you can only bomb.” . . .


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